TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
FIVE dress rehearsals should do it. If they don’t, good luck and get on with it. That, more or less, is Faf du Plessis’ message to his SA team as the World T20 looms.
The first of those dummy runs is at Newlands on Friday in the shape of a T20 against England, who will line up again at the Wanderers on Sunday. Then Australia arrive to play three matches in the format.
And that’s that: SA’s next match will their WT20 opener against England in Mumbai on March 18.
Du Plessis can be sure that England will look to bring their A game to Newlands and the Wanderers. As their captain, Eoin Morgan, said on Thursday: “Nobody will be rested over the next two games; they are games we really want to win.
Bring it, Du Plessis said: “If we lose 2-0 (to England) it’s not ideal for preparation but it’s about ticking the stuff you’re still working on, making sure you’re improving on that,” Du Plessis said on Thursday.
“So that when you get to that (WT20) stage, you should be where you need to be. If we’ve nailed our skills and we win five out of five, that’s great. But if it goes the other way it’s just about gradually stepping up.
“In two weeks’ time we go. Everyone’s clear in their mind about what their role is for the team. Once you’re in that space, if you’re in form in that tournament, anything’s possible.
“A T20 World Cup is crazy because anyone can win it.”
Du Plessis said he was in the happy place of knowing which players made up the best XI at his disposal.
“That’s the great thing about how our plan has unfolded in the last year-and-a-half, which was when we sat down and planned our ideal 15 that we would like to go (to the World T20) – and that was the 15 that was on paper (at the squad announcement).
“In that period we experimented, we tried new roles, we tried to see where guys are suited best.
“I see the next five games – seven if you count the two (WT20) warm-up games – about giving most of the guys game time. You can’t always guarantee that everyone is going to play. It’s about getting some guys ready and feeling good before that first match.”
And that was most of what Du Plessis had to say about the next five games and the WT20. The rest of his time was taken up with responding to reports that Kevin Pietersen was looking to qualify to play for SA, which he could do by 2018 – “KP had a great career for England but from a South African perspective, he’s English” – and to the confirmation that Kagiso Rabada would play for Kent this winter.
“The nice thing for him is that SA will be touring there next year,” Du Plessis said. “He hasn’t bowled with the Duke ball, he hasn’t played in those conditions, and I do think it is massively important for a young guy to go and play there.
“I learnt a lot about my game there because you basically play every second day. You learn a lot about travelling and playing.
“The key for him is not to bowl too much when he’s over there: I know that overseas bowlers in county cricket can be three feet shorter when they come back home.
“KG want to learn. He’s got such a great head on his shoulders. He doesn’t think he’s the finished article. He’s still young. He’s got lots of years to go and play in the Indian Premier League.”
Right now, he has five dress rehearsals to make sure he’s ready for opening night in Mumbai.